As we are confronted by energy bills and cost of living rises driven by macro-economic factors out of our control, now is the perfect time for women in tech to focus on what is within our gift to influence, change and improve in the year ahead. Far easier than giving up chocolate or alcohol for January – instead, make constructive resolutions for yourself and your career, so that 2023 can become your year.
Marie Measures, Chief Digital Information Officer, Apex Group, gives us her advice on making positive career resolutions and what to focus on in 2023.
As Chief Digital Information Officer at Apex Group, Marie is responsible for defining technology strategy to deliver business goals; driving transformation across Apex Group’s IT functions globally, executing Digital Innovation, Cloud, Data, Cyber and Modern Workplace strategic plans.
Marie has 30 years’ experience in technology, over twenty being within the finance industry. Across her career, Marie has worked for major international institutions, including Group CTO for Sanne Group prior to acquisition by Apex Group, at Coventry Building Society for over four years where she was Chief Information Officer, responsible for building a technology strategy and leading the transformation; and Capital One where she acted as Chief Engineer and was a member of the IT Leadership team.
1) FOCUS ON THE POSITIVES
At this time of year, you may have recently had your annual performance review with your manager. It is not unusual to come away from these meetings feeling slightly deflated instead of invigorated and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities the year ahead. Why is this? Many companies, the review system is structured in such a way that after a brief appraisal of your successes from the previous year, it is predominantly weighted towards identifying weaknesses or areas for improvement in the year ahead.
Conduct your own performance review of yourself – instead focusing on the positive attributes and behaviors that you have brought to your role and identify how you can further enhance and develop these to benefit your career and business in the coming months. If a tennis player has a weak backhand, of course they will drill and practice to improve – but not at the cost of neglecting their killer serves. For me, as a middle child with two brothers, I soon realized that a childhood of negotiating has made me a natural diplomat. And as a working mother, I’ve learnt how to multi-task and product high quality work under time and other pressures. It is these life experiences that have created strengths and focusing on deploying these skillsets rather than spending hours in classrooms trying to correct my disinterest in detail and minutiae.
2) WHAT WORKS FOR YOU?
Over the last three years, where, how and when we worked was dictated by governments, scientists and doctors, with little flexibility to accommodate what works best for you as an individual. It finally seems that for many of us, our working practices are beginning to settle into some form of “new normal”. Whether this is working 100% remotely, back in the office five days a week, or somewhere in between. With time off over the Christmas and New Year, it is a good opportunity to reflect on what working environment works best for you. Ask yourself some honest questions. Do you enjoy the freedom (and lack of commute) that working remotely offers? Does a hybrid working model help you to be more productive and help you to better balance your family or other commitments? Or do you miss the camaraderie, client lunches and informal learning opportunities in the office?
There is no one size fits all answer, but this self-awareness of which conditions and environment help you to produce your best work is an important factor as you consider the next steps in your career.
3) REFRESH YOUR CONNECTIONS
With in person meetings, coffees and networking sessions relegated to a screen for so long, many of us have allowed our network to become neglected. January is the perfect time to dust off your LinkedIn login and begin to reconnect with the people who can help you to progress and build your career in the year ahead.
In particular, for women at a key juncture in their career, such as the jump from senior management to a leadership role, the contacts you make now have an outsized impact on where you go next. For me, this was a particular mentor who helped me to reframe the metrics I used to measure success.
4) FAIL TO PREPARE…
Lastly, with this in mind, the New Year is a chance to set your goal for the 12 months ahead of you, ensuring that all career decisions and actions are in service to achieving this end target. This will set you in good stead, allowing you to ask: “will this opportunity support me in reaching that goal?” Use this opportunity to work back from the goal, identifying the steps that will be needed to get there. In the limbo period between Christmas and New Year, do some desk research into the learning and development opportunities offered by your business, as well as externally which can help you enhance your strengths and drive progression.
Traditionally a time of year to give up bad habits, I’d encourage women in technology to instead see this as an opportunity to build on their strengths and take up new habits which will help them to identify and reach their career goals in the year ahead.